An Alternative to Right and Wrong – Part 1

Monk
Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney

The moral judgment barometer is rising in the US. We’ve got Glenn Beck and Fox News scaring the crap out of the conservative Christian right (haven’t you heard? judgment day is a-comin’ long before any of that 2012 shit hits the fan!). Then there’s Jon Stewart and Co. making a career out of poking fun of Glenn Beck and Co. Somewhere in the middle there’s Rick Sanchez pounding the pavement for a new gig after being fired for calling Jon Stewart a “bigot”.

Add to this world of opposite extremes the fact that it’s now okay for blacks to call each other “nigga” (have you seen the new Cee Lo Green video? If not, just type his name into YouTube – but be warned, it’s got the n- AND f-words in it) but still taboo for whites to use the same word even if they’re not actually directing it toward a person (don’t think so? ask Dr. Laura Schlessinger). And let’s not forget the battle over the Islamic center proposed to be built near ground zero in New York. There’s a divisive issue for ‘ya – anyone who hears about it (and isn’t ignoring it) feels compelled to pick a side of that argument.

These days, it seems you’re right or wrong, good or evil, black or white. There’s not a lot of middle ground out there, and that’s a shame because the middle ground is where we can walk in one another’s shoes for a while and as a result be able to peacefully co-exist; (dare I say it) maybe even harmonize. Sometimes with a little compromise, sure, but harmonize nonetheless. (And gee – isn’t our President a literal expression of such harmony in race – half black and half white? But I digress . . .)

What if instead of thinking in terms of moral absolutes, we adopted a new paradigm? What if instead of a situation being “either/or” it could be“both/and”? How about thinking in terms of inclusion instead of exclusion? What about adopting a perspective of alignment instead of judgment?

Alignment with what? While you could choose to align with infinite emotions or states, there’s really only one ultimate state most people aspire to as much as possible and billions struggle to get even a glimpse of.

Joy.

Why joy? It’s our truest nature, our highest calling, the source energy that powers and propels us forward into life. It’s from where we’ve come and where we’ll return when we’re done. How can it not be when we’re drawn to it like magnets, seeking it daily like a cool drink of water in the desert? (Doubters – stay tuned for part 2 of this post where I’ll explore this idea further).

Lately I’ve been more deeply acquainting myself with the teachings of Abraham-Hicks, and they’ve helped me rewire how I think about the world, people, and situations. However, Abraham-Hicks is just one source for such a broader perspective; you’ll find the same teachings in the Tao Te Ching and from other ancient spiritual texts/masters and they all say the same thing: What we commonly label “good” or “bad” is really neither (or both!). There are no absolutes. The label you give something all depends on your perspective.

What we individually determine as “good” or “bad” in our unique experiences is simply a function of our own inner guidance systems sizing up whether or not something is in alignment with what we want. We are for the most part joy-seeking, growth-seeking beings, despite modern society’s attempts to confuse us as to what produces genuine joy (again, tune into part 2 for more).

For example, those who believe most Muslims are extreme fundamentalists and religious zealots like the terrorists purportedly responsible for 9/11 don’t want a Muslim presence anywhere near ground zero. To them, Islam and what it represents are “bad”, so naturally a mosque on ground zero is not in alignment with their values and beliefs. Others who believe that not all Muslims are extreme nor fundamental and who do not equate Islam with terrorism have a different view. They believe what we need to heal most right now is to honor America’s foundation of freedom of speech and religion; hence an Islamic center (or any other religious center) near or one the site of ground zero is okay with them.

No one side is right and the other wrong, and no amount of name calling or judging will make it so. There is no moral absolute here. Both sides are simply in alignment with different beliefs, which is exactly why each feels so passionate and justified in its position.

If your neighbor says or does something you don’t like, he or she isn’t wrong for doing it, nor are you wrong for disliking it. Even if the behavior is dangerous or violent, if you can merely see it as either “in” or “out” of alignment with a belief system, neither the person committing it is wrong for doing it nor are you wrong for trying to stop it. You’re both simply doing what you must. Can you still be angry at the behavior? Sure, but you can also be compassionate toward the person committing it. And therein lays the power of anger to be a force for good, for understanding.

If you can pretend there’s no such thing as “wrong” (play with me here) but instead see in terms of alignment, you’ll find that with extremes out of the picture, it’s easier to explore the middle ground. It’s easier to find compassion for your fellow man. And most of all, it’s much, much easier for each of us to follow our heart’s desire.

Stay tuned for part 2, where I’ll explore more about our inner guidance system and why staying in alignment with joy is the key to living your truth.